[First published in WRTI’s Arts Desk, 8 Feb 2016. Reprinted by permission.]

The recording industry gives out its GRAMMY Awards on February 15th; WRTI’s Kile Smith looks at the classical categories.

Best Opera Recording Nominee

Boston Baroque’s Monteverdi, in the Best Opera category

This year’s classical GRAMMYs may have more than a few surprises. Best Orchestral includes the grand old name of Boston along with powerhouses Seattle and Pittsburgh. Also making strong statements are the symphonies of New Zealand and Oregon.

Boston’s stamp is all over the Opera category. The Boston Early Music Festival and Boston Baroque enter the fray with former Boston Symphony director Seiji Ozawa, leading the Saito Kinen Orchestra.

Last year’s winner Conspirare is in the Choral category again with music by Pablo Neruda, up against Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Monteverdi, and Stephen Paulus. The music of this well-loved American composer, who passed away in 2014, has nominations in three different categories.

New music fills three of the five Chamber Music slots, and in the Contemporary category Paulus is listed with Gerald Barry, Andrew Norman, Joan Tower, and Julia Wolfe.

Production values in Classical Compendium pit new music against Handel and early 20th-century Jewish stage and film music.

Puccini and Christopher Rouse rub shoulders with Beethoven, Joyce DiDonato, and Cecilia Bartoli in Solo Vocal. In Solo Instrumental, Daniil Trifonov, with the Philadelphia Orchestra, is up against Augustin Hadelich, and, again, Seattle. But watch for Ursula Oppens and Fredric Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated!, the Mt. Everest of 20th-century piano variations.


Joyce DiDonato and Antonio Pappano in Best Solo Vocal category

Best Orchestral Performance
Bruckner: Symphony No. 4
Manfred Honeck, conductor (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)
Label: Reference Recordings

Dutilleux: Métaboles; L’Arbre Des Songes; Symphony No. 2, ‘Le Double’
Ludovic Morlot, conductor (Seattle Symphony)
Label: Seattle Symphony Media

Shostakovich: Under Stalin’s Shadow – Symphony No. 10
Andris Nelsons, conductor (Boston Symphony Orchestra)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Spirit of the American Range
Carlos Kalmar, conductor (The Oregon Symphony)
Label: Pentatone

Zhou Long & Chen Yi: Symphony ‘Humen 1839’
Darrell Ang, conductor (New Zealand Symphony Orchestra)
Label: Naxos
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Best Opera Recording
Janáček: Jenůfa
Donald Runnicles, conductor (Orchestra & Chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin)
Label: Arthaus

Monteverdi: Il Ritorno D’Ulisse in Patria
Martin Pearlman, conductor; Fernando Guimarães & Jennifer Rivera; Thomas C. Moore, producer (Boston Baroque)
Label: Linn Records

Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor; Diana Damrau, Paul Schweinester & Rolando Villazón; Sid McLauchlan, producer (Chamber Orchestra Of Europe)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Ravel: L’Enfant Et Les Sortilèges; Shéhérazade
Seiji Ozawa, conductor; Isabel Leonard; Dominic Fyfe, producer (Saito Kinen Orchestra; SKF Matsumoto Chorus & SKF Matsumoto Children’s Chorus)
Label: Decca

Steffani: Niobe, Regina Di Tebe
Paul O’Dette & Stephen Stubbs, conductors; Karina Gauvin & Philippe Jaroussky; Renate Wolter-Seevers, producer (Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra)
Label: Erato
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Best Choral Performance
Beethoven: Missa Solemnis
Bernard Haitink, conductor; Peter Dijkstra, chorus master (Anton Barachovsky, Genia Kühmeier, Elisabeth Kulman, Hanno Müller-Brachmann & Mark Padmore; Symphonieorchester Des Bayerischen Rundfunks; Chor Des Bayerischen Rundfunks)
Label: BR Klassik

Monteverdi: Vespers of 1610
Harry Christophers, conductor (Jeremy Budd, Grace Davidson, Ben Davies, Mark Dobell, Eamonn Dougan & Charlotte Mobbs; The Sixteen)
Label: Coro

Pablo Neruda – The Poet Sings
Craig Hella Johnson, conductor (James K. Bass, Laura Mercado-Wright, Eric Neuville & Lauren Snouffer; Faith DeBow & Stephen Redfield; Conspirare)
Label: Harmonia Mundi

Paulus: Far In The Heavens
Eric Holtan, conductor (Sara Fraker, Matthew Goinz, Thea Lobo, Owen McIntosh, Kathryn Mueller & Christine Vivona; True Concord Orchestra; True Concord Voices)
Label: Reference Recordings

Rachmaninoff: All-Night Vigil
Charles Bruffy, conductor (Paul Davidson, Frank Fleschner, Toby Vaughn Kidd, Bryan Pinkall, Julia Scozzafava, Bryan Taylor & Joseph Warner; Kansas City Chorale & Phoenix Chorale)
Label: Chandos
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Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance
Brahms: The Piano Trios
Tanja Tetzlaff, Christian Tetzlaff & Lars Vogt
Label: Ondine

Eighth Blackbird
Label: Cedille Records

Flaherty: Airdancing for Toy Piano, Piano & Electronics
Nadia Shpachenko & Genevieve Feiwen Lee
Track from: Woman At The New Piano
Label: Reference Recordings

Brad Wells & Roomful of Teeth
Label: New Amsterdam Records

Shostakovich: Piano Quintet & String Quartet No. 2
Takács Quartet & Marc-André Hamelin
Label: Hyperion
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Best Classical Instrumental Solo
Dutilleux: Violin Concerto, L’Arbre Des Songes
Augustin Hadelich; Ludovic Morlot, conductor (Seattle Symphony)
Track from: Dutilleux: Métaboles; L’Arbre Des Songes; Symphony No. 2, ‘Le Double’
Label: Seattle Symphony Media

Grieg & Moszkowski: Piano Concertos
Joseph Moog; Nicholas Milton, conductor (Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern)
Label: Onyx Classics

Mozart: Keyboard Music, Vol. 7
Kristian Bezuidenhout
Label: Harmonia Mnudi

Rachmaninov Variations
Daniil Trifonov (The Philadelphia Orchestra)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Rzewski: The People United Will Never Be Defeated!
Ursula Oppens (Jerome Lowenthal)
Label: Cedille Records

Best Classical Solo Vocal Album
Beethoven: An Die Ferne Geliebte; Haydn: English Songs; Mozart: Masonic Cantata
Mark Padmore; Kristian Bezuidenhout, accompanist
Label: Harmonia Mundi

Joyce & Tony – Live from Wigmore Hall
Joyce DiDonato; Antonio Pappano, accompanist
Label: Erato

Nessun Dorma – The Puccini Album
Jonas Kaufmann; Antonio Pappano, conductor (Kristīne Opolais, Antonio Pirozzi & Massimo Simeoli; Coro Dell’Accademia Nazionale Di Santa Cecilia; Orchestra Dell’Accademia Nazionale Di Santa Cecilia)
Label: Sony Classical

Rouse: Seeing; Kabir Padavali
Talise Trevigne; David Alan Miller, conductor (Orion Weiss; Albany Symphony)
Label: Naxos

St. Petersburg
Cecilia Bartoli; Diego Fasolis, conductor (I Barocchisti)
Label: Decca

Best Classical Compendium
As Dreams Fall Apart – The Golden Age of Jewish Stage and Film Music (1925-1955)
New Budapest Orpheum Society; Jim Ginsburg, producer
Label: Cedille Records

Ask Your Mama
George Manahan, conductor; Judith Sherman, producer
Label: Avie Records

Handel: L’Allegro, Il Penseroso Ed Il Moderato, 1740
Paul McCreesh, conductor; Nicholas Parker, producer
Label: Signum Classics

Paulus: Three Places of Enlightenment; Veil of Tears & Grand Concerto
Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Tim Handley, producer
Label: Naxos

Woman at the New Piano
Nadia Shpachenko; Marina A. Ledin & Victor Ledin, producers
Label: Reference Recordings

Best Contemporary Classical Composition
Barry: The Importance of Being Earnest
Gerald Barry, composer (Thomas Adès, Barbara Hannigan, Katalin Károlyi, Hilary Summers, Peter Tantsits & Birmingham Contemporary Music Group)
Label: NMC Recordings

Norman: Play
Andrew Norman, composer (Gil Rose & Boston Modern Orchestra Project)
Track from: Norman: Play
Label: BMOP/Sound

Paulus: Prayers & Remembrances
Stephen Paulus, composer (Eric Holtan, True Concord Voices & Orchestra)
Track from: Paulus: Far In The Heavens
Label: Reference Recordings

Tower: Stroke
Joan Tower, composer (Giancarlo Guerrero, Cho-Liang Lin & Nashville Symphony)
Track from: Tower: Violin Concerto; Stroke; Chamber Dance
Label: Naxos

Wolfe: Anthracite Fields
Julia Wolfe, composer (Julian Wachner, Choir of Trinity Wall Street & Bang on a Can All-Stars)
Label: Cantaloupe Music